Back in Business

November 22, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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David Dinte, the new  NSW President of the Friends of the Tel Aviv University plans to raise the organisation’s profile within the community.

David Dinte and Professor Joseph Klafter Photo: Henry Benjamin

Dinte told J-Wire that the organisation, established thirty years ago by Sam Moss, had been barely active for the last two years and that he was looking forward to giving it a new lease of life.

Professor Joseph Klafter, the university’s president,  was in Sydney to meet Dinte and Moss.  He said that it was not an uncommon problem worldwide to see committees ageing…necessitating a re-birthing through the involvement of a younger generation.

Commenting on those whom he had met from the new group,  Klafter said:  “I have met the new blood – its members are ready for take off”.

In the six weeks he has been president, Dinte has established his board and is currently putting the final touches on establishing the NSW Friends of the Tel Aviv University’s patrons. Dinte said: “I am not yet prepared to name the patrons until all have agreed to our request but I can say they include some of the most highly respected known names in our community. The new Board whose members are in the 30s to 50s age group will broaden the awareness of Tel Aviv University across the community . All are actively involved in business and all share the desire to see the organisation grow.”

Talking about his plans for the future, Dinte added: “We intend creating youth and women’s divisions.  We are not looking for a short term fix..rather a  long term impact which will see the establishment of links between the university to students and academics in Australia involving exchange plans and special programs.  Consistent long term activities are the most effective way to support the university.”

Professor Klafter said: “We have had programs  for many years called TAU International which offers a semester or  a year in Tel Aviv. The university is particularly strong in the area of  Middle Eastern studies…we teach all aspects including historical, political, religious and languages and have recently added courses in English which are credited to students’ home universities…”

He added: “Currently we have twenty exchange students  from Monash University in Melbourne and there are six Israeli students from the TAU at Monash.  Last year, we reintroduced teaching Judaism as a culture along with Judaic philosophy and history. This prepares Israelis to teach Judaism not solely from a religious aspect.

Sydney University is shutting down its Yiddish department signalling the end of Yiddish as a university subject. But at Tel Aviv University, the language is enjoying increasing popularity. Professor Klafter added: “We run summer crash courses in Yiddish and they are very popular…especially with students from Japan and Europe. The attendance is very high.”

Professor Klafter told J-Wire that Tel Aviv University is the biggest in Israel and currently has 29,000 students.

Dinte added: “In the past, the Friends of the TAU held tennis tournaments and social functions. We are starting from scratch and I have a different approach – a more professional one which  may well encapsulate some the past activities….but it will be based on new ideas, new people and new connections..that’s what will raise the community’s awareness of what the university is achieving.”

Founder Sam Moss said he was pleased to see the organisation is such capable hands. “The Melbourne Friends of Tel Aviv remains successful and I am confident Sydney group is well on its way back to having a respected standing within the community. It’s in good hands.”

Speaking of the planned exchange programs he said: “If students go even for six weeks following their HSC,  they will be great ambassadors for Israel and the university on their return. The NSW Friends of the Tel Aviv University are back in business.”

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